McNeese: See what could be
For those who still wonder if it really matters what level McNeese football plays in, check out your television set Saturday afternoon.
There, on another network playing the middle of three national games, the school the Cowboys fans despite the most will be playing.
Louisiana-Lafayette, or whatever you want to call it, will be taking center stage against Texas. That’s not Texas State, or North Texas, or even Texas-San Antonio.
Louisiana, which is what it is being called in all the promos, is playing the Texas Longhorns, the big boys who are heading to the SEC.
Not only that, but there will be the number 23 next to the Ragin Cajuns name. That stands for ULL’s national preseason ranking.
McNeese fans should not be upset, nor should they be jealous. Louisiana-Lafayette has earned the ranking and the honor of playing such a big game against Texas.
The school pays the bills and its dues while making the move up the college football ladder.
Meanwhile, McNeese will play Saturday against West Florida, a very good Division II program, but the game won’t earn as much money, get as much exposure for the university or sell as many T-shirts.
It will be streamed live on ESPN-plus.
Think that is a one-hit wonder, Coastal Carolina played on national television Thursday night just months after hosting BYU last fall.
But ULL is personal. It is a kick in the gut for McNeese fans who used to see their Cowboys beat up the Cajuns like an older brother does to his younger sidekick.
Now the little brother is playing with the big boys.
The reason for this sea change is simple, the previous leaders had a vision that the ones at McNeese didn’t.
That has changed some. Under President Daryl Burckel and Athletic Director Heath Schroyer McNeese is thinking bigger and toward the future.
Burckel has said he wants athletics to lead the way for McNeese, meaning he wants to use sports to get the word out about the school and what it has to offer.
McNeese begins an important season for its program this weekend. The future will likely be open to movement if the Cowboys can find the right path.
For any help they always look down the road to see how it can be done and what can happen if it is done right.
*Jim Gazzolo covers McNeese sports for CBS Lake Charles